10. Basketball : 4 Deaths
This may actually come as a surprise to most people. Major injuries are more common in basketball than most other sports due to the constant activity and change in motions.
Basketball players are more likely to have an ACL tear or torn Achilles than in any other sport. Nearly 70% of all Achilles tendon ruptures occur during sports, with nearly half of these occurring while playing basketball.
Let me outline why it is not the safest sport in the world. You play on hardwood floors where guys are constantly jumping in a fast paced game where players are scrambling to get the ball. Jumping for rebounds or blocking shots can lead to low bridge occurrences that puts players at precarious predicaments while airborne. Constantly scrambling and swiping for the ball can also lead to pokes in the eye and hits that can cause a concussion.
A game of basketball will maybe have one injury, if that, but every once in awhile you will hear about someone who falls and hits their head on the court or a tear of the acl that changes the course of a great player’s career.
9. Gymnastics: 4 Deaths
Gymnastics is a sport that tests balance, strength, flexibility and control. Though originally devised to test soldiers for war in the military, it now is an Olympic sport contested by many. This sport invokes an image of graceful women and men performing acrobatics with great agility.
Despite a graceful image, it also has an ugly face to it too. Yes, I’m referring to the risks involved. Wrist fractures, spinal fractures, ankle sprains, cartilage damage are some of the various injuries involved. Julissa Gomez was a victim of one the worst accidents in gymnastics history. In May 1988 months before the Olympics during a warm up, she slipped and slammed her head resulting in a neck-down paralysis that lasted until her death in 1991.
8. Football: 10+ Deaths
With about one million high schoolers in organized play, football has long been America’s most popular sport — and its most dangerous. This collision sport’s safety record is not good, with nearly twice the injuries of basketball — our country’s second most popular sport. High school football players are most at risk. Primarily because of their inexperience and smaller stature, high school players are twice as likely to be injured as college players.
But high school athletes aren’t the only ones getting hurt. The numbers for young players is sobering: It’s estimated that every year, doctors treat 389,000 musculoskeletal injuries in players ages five to 14. Recent studies have also revealed an epidemic of extensive neck and head injuries, including concussions and football-related TBIs, which can lead to memory problems, concentration issues, speech impediments, and headaches.
7. Bull Riding: 10+ Deaths
This is a rodeo sport that involves staying mounted on a bull for as long as possible while the bull tries to buck off the rider. The very mention of mounting a 1000kg bull invokes jitters amongst us; so I guess much needn’t be said about the dangers entailed in the actual sport.
It has been considered as one of the most dangerous sports in the world with damage to the neck, head and face besides concussions accounting for most of the injuries. In 1989, a bull gored and punctured the heart of cowboy Lane Frost. Afterwards it was mandatory to wear protective vests made of ballistic material. This and a slew of other protective measures have brought down the accidents in the sport. Despite all the protective measures, bull riding still continues to be the “most dangerous 8 seconds in sports”.
6. Rugby: 12+ Deaths
With 13 players on either team smashing against each other for 80 minutes, there’ll definitely be a few injuries as a result of playing this sport. With the only protection being a mouth guard and spiked boots, players have to carry the ball down the field.
Rugby players use their whole bodies to play the game, leading to the controversial use of shoulder barging, body checking and the lifting tackle. These plays contribute to the concussions, torn ligaments, dislocated shoulders and even tetraplegia, that players can end up with.
Recent data shows that repeated concussions also puts players at risk of developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), brain damage and dementia.
Since 2001, collisions and rough tackles in rugby have led to the deaths of over a dozen professional players.
5. Wrestling: 13+ Deaths
While professional wrestling may be one big, scripted show, there is a very thin line between warning your opponent of what’s to come and making the moves look convincing to viewers. As many wrestlers would rather convince the viewers, their opponents can end up taking a serious pounding.
In the WWE, the average wrestler fights over 270 days in a year; that’s a LOT of body slams! To combat the constant pain, many of them are in need of constant medication. Add the use of steroids, mixing of medication and other PEDs, you’ll find that many wrestlers are walking heart attacks. There is also evidence that the continuous head trauma severely damages the brain.
In wrestling, showmanship matters more than anything else, but putting on a great show comes at a steep price.
4. Car Racing: 40 Deaths
With cars hurtling across the track, (NASCAR) racers are speeding at over 150mph. Driving at this kind of speed ensures that accidents will happen. As car technology improves every year, one may think races ‘should be safer,’ but in reality, they are not. With factors like the weather and driver error, auto racing is still one of the most dangerous sports in the world.
Blitzing around a course at an average speed of 175mph, in a carbon fibre box, while trying not to crash is for the very brave or very crazy. Drivers are protected by fire-retardant suits and helmets, but those don’t help in all accidents. Common injuries include smashed bones, excessive blood loss, and trauma to the head.
The Indianapolis 500 has been held since 1911 and has shaped everything from the culture to the memorabilia associated with racing. But even the Indy 500 has led to 41 deaths since inception. In more recent times, there have been over 40 driver deaths at major racing circuits since 2001.
3. Motorbike Racing: 48 Deaths
Sending your body hurtling down a track at over 100 mph is insane in a car; imagine doing it on a crotch rocket. With only a few layers of Kevlar and a helmet for protection, broken bones and third-degree abrasions are the most minor of accidents in motorcycle racing.
Yet, in what is considered the oldest race in motorcycle history, thousands descend on the Isle of Man for six days, every year. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy is the most dangerous race on earth.
For one, there is no dedicated course. The race snakes through the town on a narrow 37-mile journey, with 250 corners. Riders average 120 mph on public roads with hedges, stone walls, and homes, mere feet away. In its 107 years of existence, 240 riders have died taking part, 48 of them since 2001.
2. Boxing: 50+ Deaths
A contact sport where the participant’s sole goal is to punch his opponent into oblivion. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this isn’t an injury free sport.
Statistics reveal that 90% of boxers suffer brain damage during the course of their life. They are more prone to diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s later in their lives.
In MMA, strikes are directed at all parts of the body, thus distributing blows more evenly; compared to boxing where blows are concentrated on the head.
1. Soccer: 67 Deaths
Major surpirise at number 1. Soccer is one of those games that you’re either mad about or see as something your crazy European friends force you to watch. The game takes physicality to another level; running for 90 minutes while moving a ball with only your feet and avoiding tackles is no easy feat. With no protective gear, players are at the mercy of ruthless forms of defense including the infamous studs-up challenge and aerial body checking. Concussion, bruises and bloodied limbs, torn ACLs, shin splints etc, are some of the common injuries in soccer.
Apart from a widespread occurrence of concussion and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) among soccer players, the sport also ranks high for the amount of former players who suffer CTE due to repeated concussion. Since 2001, there have been 67 soccer players who died while playing a game; deaths from injuries sustained while playing, or died after contact on the pitch.
I have to admit that I was really surprised to see soccer at the #1 position, even before boxing and motorcyle racing.
All sports carry a degree of risk of course and I think most people are aware of that risk if they’re competing in that sport. I’m just really curious how these statistics were compiled though and from which country/region.
I researched sports deaths and based my number 1 off of that. I was surprised to learn about so many deaths involved in soccer as well. Motorcycle racing seems the most dangerous to me and throughout history there has actually been more deaths involved with that. They could easily trade spots in the most dangerous category, and if I was to choose the safer alternative between the two I would probably choose soccer.
Most of the people seem surprise to see soccer on the list of most dangerous sports, however it is!
I am a junior athletic trainer student and doing some research i found out that soccer is the sport with most concusions followed by gymnastic. I never thought soccer will actually be more dangerous than football but statistics show that it is.
Thank you for shearing this with us 😀
I was actually surprised by the number of deaths involved from playing soccer. I guess the equipment and gear protects football players more so. Gymnastics is scary as there is always a possibility that you can fall on your head doing a flip. I will stick to basketball at number 10